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Pittsburgh Pirates: Down on the farm, a minor league spotlight-Lolo Sanchez

An ind-depth look at Pirates outfield prospect Lolo Sanchez

Lolo Sanchez
Lolo Sanchez

There is an old adage that speed kills. If that adage rings true, then Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Kevin Bryan Sanchez, or Lolo Sanchez as Pirates fans recognize him as, should be considered a killing machine.

Lolo Sanchez likely has the best speed of any prospect in the Pirates organization. That is saying a lot with the likes of Jared Oliva, Ji-Hwan Bae, Travis Swaggerty, and Sammy Siani all representing speed threats in the Bucs farm system.

Sanchez was originally signed by the Pirates in the 2016 Major League Baseball International Draft for $450,000 out of the Dominican Republic. The 6’ tall and 150-pound outfielder is currently ranked as the 14th overall prospect in the Pirates organization.

Last year he began the season with the Low-A Greensboro Grasshopper organization before being promoted mid-season to the High-A Bradenton Marauders. Between the two stops, Sanchez would hit for a .257 batting average, with 64 runs scored, five home runs, 35 runs batted in, 35 walks, 59 strikeouts, and 33 stolen bases in 389 at-bats.

The 33 stolen bases in 2019 were far from an aberration, as he had 30 stolen bases in 2018 with the Low-A short-season West Virginia Black Bears. Sanchez projects as a potential 45-50 stolen base guy in the major leagues. Currently, he has almost a 70% success rate on stolen bases in the minor leagues.

On a scale of 20 to 80 with 50 being average, Sanchez has a rating of 50 for his hit tool, a power rating of 50, a speed rating of 65, a fielding rating of 55, and a throwing arm rating of 55. After reviewing his ratings, it is easy to see why many scouts expect him to evolve into a five-tool player.

Currently, Sanchez doesn’t project to be much of a power hitter in the future. However, he has decent bat speed and had added a bit more power to his game last season. That said, he has a smallish frame that does not project as one that has a ton of room to add mass and potential power.

Instead, Sanchez projects as a future centerfielder who has a solid hit tool and the ability to be an excellent contact hitter. He also exhibits plate discipline that is well above-average, which has led to excellent strikeout and walk ratios. With his elite speed, if Sanchez can utilize his ability to hit for average and draw walks to get on base, he will be a devastating threat on the base paths.

Sanchez doesn’t simply represent a threat on offense, as he projects as a potential perennial Gold Glove candidate in the outfield. He utilizes his speed in the outfield, is superb with the leather and has a plus arm.

The expectation is that Sanchez is likely to get a full year in Bradenton this season, as he does not turn 21 until April 23rd and was almost two years younger than the average player while at Greensboro last season. Sanchez is not expected to be in the major leagues until sometime in 2022.

If he can put together another strong season in the minor leagues this season, don’t be surprised if Sanchez shoots up the prospect rankings for the Pirates. He currently possesses one of the highest upsides of any player in the organization and represents someone likely to be the centerfielder of the future for Pittsburgh.